University of Virginia Health System reserachers have identified a key receptor that could be a potential target for drugs used in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The condition is sudden in onset and is a life-threatening condition.
The receptor is similar to what triggers the sense of sight, smell and taste (G-protein coupled receptors) There is no existing treatment for ARDS in which the body's own fluid gets trapped in the lungs and prevents easy breathing. ARDS is caused by pneumonia, septic shock, trauma, or inhaling toxic chemicals. In the current research, it was found that the receptor called CXCR2 attracted neutrophils or the white blood cells, which is the first step in the development of ARDS. "We can't say yet that if you target this receptor you will stop ARDS," said Klaus Ley, M.D., Ph.D., director of the cardiovascular research center at UVa. "But it is reasonable to be hopeful and to pursue this type of research that might one day translate into clinical application." The details of the research appear in the February 16 issue of the "Online First Articles" of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Our finding is that expression of this receptor is in the lung itself," said co-author Dr. Jörg Reutershan, M.D., an anesthesiologist from Germany. "Our hope is that drug companies might be able to target the lung with an aerosol, which would have the advantage of hitting receptor without compromising the entire immune system, which is always a problem. Aerosol treatment would be a great advantage." Online Article at http://www.jci.org.